Clemson closed out their ACC regular season schedule with a win against Miami. Clemson remains undefeated in Death Valley and extended their home winning streak to 40 games. This is an amazing accomplishment that shouldn’t be overlooked. Credit to this Clemson team for rebounding from last year and finishing their ACC schedule undefeated against a fairly stout schedule. Wake Forest, NC ST, Syracuse and FSU are good teams and were both healthy and playing well when the Tigers took their best shots and defeated them all.
This past week they played a more injured and lackluster opponent in the Miami Hurricanes. Stop me if you’ve heard this before but Miami came into the year ranked and the odds on favorite to win the ACC Coastal. The “U” was once again back and ready to stake their claim as the best team in the ACC. Instead they have a losing record and are once again going back to the drawing board to try and find some semblance of the great teams from the past.
Clemson dominated this game in all phases and as they prepare for rivalry week, let’s take a look at how the offense graded out.
DJ started this game looking like the player we’ve come to expect this year. He was reading the field, putting the ball where it needed to go and was effective with his legs and arm. He was fully in command of the offense and took the team right down the field in drive after drive to put up 24 points in the 1st half. DJ seems to play best when the staff allows for him to run a few times, take some hits, and get greased up. As strange as it seems, it appears he settles in once he’s able to put his head down and get hit. To that end, he lead the team on the ground with 89 yards and a TD.
The 3rd quarter was disappointing as there were yards and points to be had, but the team returned to shooting themselves in the foot. Drops, fumbles and an INT led to points for the Canes and the game getting closer than necessary. Thankfully the 4th quarter saw DJ and the offense right themselves and tack on another 14 points.
It was great to see Cade get on the field and lead a TD drive at the end of the game. There were no balls put in danger, he ran strong and threw the ball accurately. He looked more comfortable and perhaps the game is slowing down for him a bit more. It would have been preferable for him to see even more time but the lackluster 3rd quarter led coaches to keep DJ in longer.
The OL played well this game and helped Clemson tally over 400 yards of total offense. Miami was committed to stopping Clemson from running the ball successfully but the Tigers still had over 200 yards on the ground. In passing situations, DJ normally had the time he needed to survey the field for the right pass or take off and scramble when needed. The OL wasn’t perfect and did give up some negative plays but by and large they kept the team on schedule and in 3rd and short situations helped the Tigers covert seemingly every time. It’s disheartening to see Marcus Tate is out for the year as the left side of the OL has been the most consistent part of the group this year.
We will need this same performance against U of SC, UNC, and whomever the Tigers play in a bowl game.
Will Shipley led the RB room with 17 rushes for 63 yards. Miami was keying on him every time and wanted to ensure that Shipley didn’t beat them. Kudos to the staff for not going away from the talented sophomore and continuing to feed him the ball. It is surprising that Phil Mafah didn’t have more touches though. He carried the rock only 6 times for 24 yards.
It was great to see Kobe Pace back on the field from his injury and scoring a TD. He has been overlooked this year due to the emergence of Mafah and injury issues but he is an important change of pace back. Every team should have at least 3 capable RBs to absorb the hits the position takes and Clemson finally has their 3rd back healthy and ready to make an impact.
The TEs were once again the leading pass catchers this game. Jake Briningstool led the team with 3 catches for 59 yards. David Allen added 34 yards on 4 catches and a sweet TD grab on a bullet from DJ. Luke Price hauled in his 1st TD on a great offensive play call. Miami was so focused on our running game that we could play action them whenever we pleased and throw to the TEs. All blocked well and continued the high level of play that we have come to expect from this position. It’s great to see this position rise to prominence again after so many years of lackluster play once Jordan Leggett graduated.
A lack of both talent and production at the WR position is holding this offense back. With Beaux Collins still out, the WR room has become the Antonio Williams show and whomever decides to show up as well that day. Williams lead the group with 4 catches for 31 yards. Brannon Spector caught 2 for 18 but also had a bad drop on a drive that would have resulted in points. Adam Randall only caught one pass and was the culprit of miscommunication with DJ that resulted in the lone INT of the game. Still his talent is evident and he will benefit from the extended PT he is receiving.
I don’t know what’s worse, that Clemson was having to play Will and Drew Swinney this game, or that both ended up with the same or more yards receiving than both Ngata and EJ Williams!
There were deep plays called and DJ had time to throw but had no where to go because the WRs can’t get separation. That’s the main culprit for why this offense has been efficient but not explosive all year. Clemson desperately needs Collins healthy and an influx of talent at this position.
The stats tell the story of how well the offense played this game. Clemson totaled 448 yards through a balanced attack (239 passing/209 rushing). Clemson was 14 for 19 on 3rd down mainly due to winning early downs that resulted in 3rd and shorts. Clemson ran 84 plays and only had 2 penalties. If not for the turnovers this would have been the most complete the offense has looked.
The 1st half of this game was a thing of beauty with the offense putting up 24 points and moving the ball at will against the Canes. There was a good mix between passing and running plays and the calls were inventive and fun to see. The TD to Luke Price was excellent and showcased how effective this offense can be.
The 3rd quarter was frustrating but the fault lies more so from an execution standpoint rather than scheme. Clemson was moving the ball but then would have a bad drop from Spector, a fumble from Allen and another fumble from DJ. The offense got their heads straight and finished the game strong with 2 more scoring drives that looked like what we’d seen earlier in the game. Hopefully the staff shows the same preparation against U of SC and UNC to end the year strong and provide confidence for 2023.
What grade do you give the Clemson Defense and ST vs Miami?
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